March 28, 2020
"The Best Response to a Pandemic"
In recent days we’ve witnessed various responses to the current crisis we’re facing – some we might frown upon and others we might applaud. I’d like to share what I believe is the best response to a pandemic. Other actions are good and necessary, but I believe this one is most needed and could be the most effective of all. And it’s something we all could do, if we’re willing. I’m referring to our humbling ourselves before God, forsaking any known sin in our lives, and submitting ourselves to His will. What does that have to do with dealing with a pandemic? Why is that anywhere near as important as washing our hands or quarantining ourselves, much less singled out as being even more vital?
Why? Because ultimately our fate rests with God. Whether this current pandemic is one of His judgments on our world or not, He is able to intervene to either bring it to an end, lessen its effect, or safely bring us through it. According to similar circumstances as recorded in the Bible, we can affect what He chooses to do through humble repentance and intercessory prayer. There were occasions when pestilence or plagues were being suffered and God stopped it due to someone standing in the gap interceding on behalf of the people. There were other times when God ended it when the people were willing to turn away from their wrongdoing and submit to Him.
We often quote II Chronicles 7:14 in connection with our need for revival: “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” However, this verse becomes even more relevant today when we look at the previous verse: “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people…” What we’re facing today fits the definition of “pestilence”. When facing pestilence, God’s main instruction about how to overcome it isn’t by washing hands, observing social distancing, or depending on our human ingenuity, as helpful as all of those may be. The best and potentially most effective thing we can do is to humbly repent and seek Him.
When Pharaoh faced the plagues in Egypt, he refused to let his heart be moved by them. Instead of submitting to God, he hardened his heart. At one point God asked him through Moses, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?” (Exodus 10:3). In light of other tragic situations, storms, and disasters our world has faced in recent history, and now this pandemic, how long will we keep stubbornly and proudly going down our current destructive pathway without humbling ourselves before God and changing direction?
While we can easily point to the more obvious sins of a society that has turned away from God’s Word in many ways, let’s not stop there. We need to look at the church and at ourselves too. Many in the church need to repent of having embraced what the world says is right and wrong while forsaking what the Bible says about it. Many of us need to repent of allowing our loyalty to a religious organization and its traditions become more important to us than our faithfulness to God. Some of us need to repent for following false teachers and preachers who aren’t being faithful to God’s Word.
Every one of us probably has aspects of our lives we need to deal with in accordance with II Chronicles 7:14. This would be a great time to humble ourselves, repent, and submit to the Lord. In the midst of everything else you’re doing in the face of this pandemic, this could prove to be the most important.